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Ten Poems from SONO

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Veronica (Vera Icon)


I was walking on Via Veneto.

Va-va-voom! he said, and I laughed out loud:

it was all in the verve of the gesture.

I was a green-eyed blonde, I was a girl.

Vainglory! Will you give me some of it,

garrulous, god-struck, full of vinegar.

This might have been a visionary stance,

a revision of Isis and Venus,

reversion to a vision of grandeur,

or desire in a raw and vital state,

another variant of verismo

and as vivid as a green valentine.

Viva! Some green blood running in my veins,

te quiero verde (I want you green),

which didn’t mean I want you virtuous

if virtue meant veiling your truer thoughts.

Or maybe virtue was Veronica,

an adventure in the vernacular,

passing her handkerchief, tossing her cape.

One was a swinger, one was a saint,

one was devoid of all vanity and

one was standing in the path of the bull:

it was all in the quest for victory.

There was vanitas, there was veritas,

I hoped I had both guts and godliness.

Some of us had more and some had less—

this was the true truth we were green about.



I was trammeled, I thought, by tragedy,

oh what, something long ago, some travail

of my soul or my body, or of both.

The “little tragedies of daily life”

tremoring through me—tremor wasn’t a verb,

tra-la-la wasn’t either, or trial,

though they trailed through my life, didn’t they,

a tracery of tears, a track of woes.

Woes, woes, ten little fingers and toes,

decades of them, this deed, that distortion,

a tort against the treasured harmony.

A twist or a twirl, a tic, a tic-tac-toe,

thrumming on the synapses, drumming out

a threnody of threats and tears, a thought-

torture, love, love, a tiny tortured heart.

My heart, my own little tap-tapping heart,

my tapped-out heart, their testament to me,

a test of wills, or a test of my will,

my willingness, my wish to weather on.

Oh waves, waves, all the ripples and rhythms,

the rituals of walking and reaching,

the verbiage, the verb-thoughts, try this, try that;

the rites of therapy and talking trash,

the tapestry of tears, the truth-trapeze.

But did I want the truth? Try me, I said.

This is, this was, this should never have been;

reason, thought-treason and some truisms.

The Poems:

Traveling / Shadows
Thesaurus / Grace
Grief / Hope
Veronica (Vera Icon) / Trauma
Sistine / Song


Excerpted from SONO by SarahArvio. Copyright: © 2006 by Sarah Arvio
Published in arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf,a division of Random House, Inc.
Sarah Arvio read these poems at Chapters Bookshop,  Washington, D. C., April 1, 2006


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